Global computer system crash leaves BA passengers stranded

The UK’s two busiest airports were massively disrupted by a catastrophic British Airways IT failure today. All British Airways flights scheduled from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled, and airline representatives were urging customers not to arrive for flights at either airport.

A busy weekend at the two airports got significantly busier when British Airways’ IT systems crashed completely at around 11am this morning. There are concerns over the vulnerability of the new computer systems; it is the sixth time this year that a significant failure has taken place, similar issues were experienced in September last year, as well as four separate failures in a month between June and July. The latest outage as proven the most disruptive so far however.

Heathrow delays and cancellations caused massive queues to snake around the terminals with luggage piled up everywhere. Globally, there were many other airports affected too; planes that were grounded were unable to offload passengers due to a shortage of gates and consequently, those in the terminal buildings were left waiting to board.

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Heathrow management have said that they will deploy extra customer service personnel and will be working closely with the airline to resolve the problem.

In addition to the flight cancellations and queues, there was no access to web-based services such as online check-in or e-tickets for a period either, with the British Airways website down for 2 hours due to the system crash.

The airline’s Twitter account was inundated with messages of frustration from passengers; there has been widespread despair over poor communication regarding flights, baggage, assistance and compensation. Some passengers have been tweeting that they have been stuck on a plane for as long as 3 hours after landing, with little or no explanation. There has been such a huge amount anger directed at the company that British Airways CEO, Alex Cruz, felt compelled to issue a video statement apologising for the disruption caused.

British Airways have stated that they have no reason to believe that the IT failure was anything malicious and are blaming it on a power supply issue which they hope to have under control very soon. It’s expected that Gatwick services will return to normal tomorrow and that the bulk of scheduled flights will operate from Heathrow too but passengers are still be asked to check the status of their flight before showing up at either airport.